TITLE: Collision, part 1
Iron Man (movie)
RATING: PG-13 (bordering on mild, mild R)
PAIRING: Steve/Tony, obviously :)
DISCLAIMER: None of the characters belong to me, sadly. They are owned by people with a lot more money
Author's Voice of Warning (aka Author's Note):
English is not my first language; it's German. This is the best I can do. Any mistakes you find in here, collect them and you might win a prize The spell-checker said everything's okay, but you know how trustworthy those thingies are...
NOTE: The story was a spur of the moment decision to get rid of the Tony/Steve bunny quietly chewing my ankle off in a corner of my brain. The universe is a mix of movie and comic, taking some elements from one, some from the other, and hopefully butchering them less than I believe I did. I've been staring at this story so long, I think I got cross-eyed.
Anyway, apologies in advance to the long-time fans in case I did a really bad number on the characters.
Tony Stark knew exactly when it had happened: the moment he had laid eyes on the very much alive form of Steve Rogers – Captain America. No one had believed it possible that the man could have survived over seventy years in a block of ice. No one had would have bet on the brain to be in perfect health. No one, not even Tony Stark himself, would have guessed on what the moment Captain America woke was for the future.
SHIELD had found the man on a more or less routine science mission – sponsored by Stark Industries, like so many things nowadays. Tony's involvement in SHIELD was a diverse one. He gave money, he supplied tech, but he also demanded that Stark Industries be involved in all the new developments, that SI was the only supplier, and that Iron Man and his technology belonged to Stark alone. As much as Nick Fury wanted to get his hands on teat particular tech to use it as full body armors for his troops, Tony had put his foot down and not budged.
In the end he had won.
Tony had been in the isolation chamber when Rogers had blinked open incredibly blue eyes, looking confused and slightly out of it. Of course he would be out of it. He had been in a hibernation-like state for seven decades!
Medical personnel had swarmed around the man, checking blood pressure, breathing, heart beat, everything. Tony had been a by-stander, dressed in his Iron Man suit. It was the only reason he had been allowed in because the armor was better than any HazMat gear or Quarantine pressure suit. No bacteria, no germs, no foreign biological material of any kind was allowed to touch the defrosting Captain America, and now that he had woken, security was even tighter.
Tony had watched, impassionate, glowing slits in a featureless mask. No one had seen his expression of disbelief and… hope.
Blue eyes had fallen on him.
Dull and unfocused. Filled with so much confusion and emotional pain, Tony had stepped forward and wrapped a gloved hand around Rogers'. The blond had held onto it with more strength than Tony would have thought possible, and he had refused to let go. Those blue eyes had been on him like Tony was his life line. He was trying to voice a question, but his voice didn't work. It was a rough rasp and Tony shushed him almost gently.
"You'll be fine," he said over and over.
Doctors worked around him. Medical personnel swarmed into the room. Captain America was staring at him with that painful confusion, unable to understand anything happening to him.
Until the moment he had fallen asleep again, the young features relaxing, his full concentration had been on Iron Man.
Tony had never been more struck with another person than with Steve Rogers. Maybe it was part of the Super-Soldier serum effect. Maybe it was the plain human need projected by the man. Maybe…
Rogers' recovery took little over twenty-four hours, after which he was briefed on what had happened. Tony was there, again as Iron Man, hiding behind the mask. The dull confusion of before had made way to curiosity in the alert blue eyes. Rogers was quick on the uptake, intelligent, and not as shocked about matters as SHIELD had figured.
Super-Soldier, Tony mused. Here was the man who had volunteered himself to an experimental drug to save the world, to help his country.
Rogers was the All-American pin-up. He was broad-shouldered, blond, blue-eyed, muscular, with the good looks and general build of a quarterback, and an idealism that was almost supernatural. He inspired loyalty and confidence, you looked up to him – and not just because he was tall – and he wasn't stupid. Quite the contrary. He might be a little overwhelmed by this new millennium, but he adapted fast.
The Avengers closed around him like a shield. They fit him perfectly, and he fit them. He was a natural leader. He provided the guidance needed to reign in the younger ones. He was the stability, the rock in the stormy sea. He inspired and he cautioned and he could be trusted. He was a known factor, an American icon. He had no ulterior motives, he wasn't a mutant with a grudge, he wasn't… like them.
Tony watched them all with a secret envy and longing. He didn't doubt for a moment what he himself represented in this group: the money well. He funded the operations, he supplied them with gear and a place to meet, even to live. Iron Man was nothing but an add-on. He had no super-powers. He was no inspiring leader. He was a man who knew how to handle a very powerful armor, who had an incredible power-source in the middle of his chest, and who had the right connections. They let him play in their sandbox because of the Tony Stark component.
So Tony still went out on his own missions. No back-up but Jarvis, sometimes Rhodey, and mostly Pepper at home, with a first aid kit.
But he wouldn't wallow. He wouldn't sink into despair.
Sometimes he was close to it, though.
They became friends somehow. Tony found that 'Cap' had a dry sense of humor and despite his innocence when it came to the modern electronic age, all the technical devices and the progress that had been made in all the areas, Steve Rogers wasn't innocent at all. He could blush at the oddest moments about the simplest things, but suddenly he would surprise Tony with a wry remark and a simple raised brow.
It was hard not to like the man. It was hard to resist the charm.
He failed. Miserably. Spectacularly.
Tony spent his time alternating between LA and New York. His hideously expensive and huge apartment in New York City saw more of him in a week than in the last years combined. The mansion he additionally owned was rid of dust, refurbished, and converted into the Avengers' Mansion. A training room was added for their special needs. By and by Tony moved stuff. He constructed a second maintenance base for the armor. Jarvis was given a home. Pepper took the changes in a stride. The board of directors didn't so much as raise an eyebrow at their CEO's move. The New York office of Stark Industries shifted uneasily as their boss moved so much closer.
Steve hung out at the apartment, sometimes slept over, much to Tony's rising misery and secret happiness. They talked and Stark found that the other man had an open mind, was quick on the uptake and while he didn't follow techno-babble, he asked precise questions that Tony was only too happy to answer.
Yes, they were friends. After a few months they were good friends. After a year they were best friends. It didn't help his crush. It didn't help that Steve still didn't know that Iron Man and Tony were the same person. He would only know the rumors, if he had ever heard them, which Tony doubted.
SHIELD had taken care of Tony's declaration in front of the assembled press years before. He had 'outed' himself as Iron Man, but that had been corrected to Stark supplying the gear for the unknown man in the high tech suit. Fury arranged for witnesses to claim to have seen Iron Man while Stark had been answering questions for the press. There had been visual proof of Stark being in New York at a dinner while Iron Man was taking care of some terrorist group somewhere else.
The media interest in Tony Stark as a new kind of superhero diminished. While Tony hated to play the game, he knew Fury had made the right decision. He would have killed himself and SI with this. It had been a heat of the moment decision, riding on an adrenaline high, wanting the good press to finally annihilate all the rumors and lies.
For a moment he had felt incredible.
Now he was just the billionaire playboy again. At least that didn't bother Steve. Rogers had never made anything of the fact that Tony was disgustingly rich. He treated him like one of the team, just like he treated Iron Man.
That didn't help Tony's crush either.
If at all, it made it so much worse.
Steve found out about who Tony was by accident. Well, maybe not so much. Tony had dropped enough hints, not always involuntarily, and Rogers wasn't stupid. Stark had never consciously hid who he was, he had just never openly told Steve that he was Iron Man. The others would do that, he had believed. Fury, for example, who saw Steve as the solution to all his troubles, as it seemed.
The problem was, it didn't help. Well, okay, it helped with the whole secrecy thing, the sometimes rather shady excuses for Iron Man's fast arrival, but not with Tony's by now quite prominent problem: he found Steve Rogers to be an impossibly attractive man. He lay awake at night, wondering about the cruelty of fate, and spent the rest of that night in the workshop, fiddling around with something or other.
He needed to get over this.
It was almost laughable! He, Tony Stark, the man who could have everyone and everything, was trying not to have Steve Rogers, epitome of all that was right and perfect. He was actually trying to push away from the man.
But maybe it was more. Maybe it wasn't just because Captain America was the leader of the Avengers, was a damn hero whose fame spanned decades. Maybe it wasn't because the others referred to him, looked up to him, needed him – while they had never needed Iron Man.
Tony Stark was damaged goods, despite the Extremis upgrade. That had been heat of the moment as well. A decision made while he was dying in agony from internal injuries inflicted by a near-unbeatable foe. Tony had been desperate, and he had been hopeful Extremis might give him an edge, the edge he needed. It had, he had beaten the enemy, and he had come out of it with a new body and spanking-new abilities.
He was still a reformed alcoholic, but hey, new liver! He was a workaholic – no reform in sight. He had an arc reactor in his chest – Extremis hadn't taken care of that for some reason. He still hadn't figured out why. Tony knew he could get people into his bed, men and women, but Steve Rogers… was perfection. Tony was imperfection squared. He had killed people with his weapons contracts, he had been and still was a ruthless business man. He wasn't companion material for Captain America. The others would skin him alive if he tried to corrupt their golden boy.
So he kept away.
Team meetings were held with him as Iron Man. He was Iron Man through and through. He had abilities then, he wasn't readable. He was a featureless mask. He was good in battles. He helped people, he destroyed weapons that could harm, he captured criminals. He was the heavy hitter of the team and he proved it each time. Extremis gave him an edge. He would get into the thick of things and take the brunt of a blast or a blow, and Extremis would handle it.
The pain was brief. The bruises stayed for a few hours. Broken bones needed a little longer. Tony didn't care. The problem was that he started to care a lot about their team leader. More than was healthy; more than he should. And he would keep Captain America safe no matter what.
Sparring sessions had been Tony's idea and he was mentally hitting himself over the head for that stupid move over and over again. Sweaty Steve was even harder to ignore than non-sweaty Steve or Steve-as-Captain-America. That uniform hid nothing at all! That Rogers easily threw Tony halfway across the room and didn't even breathe hard was unfair, but expected. Tony learned several new moves and Steve told him to stop playing target and learn some self-preservation.
He almost laughed at that.
He was good at self-destruction. It was a skill he had never needed to perfect.
"You need to stop thinking and listen to your instincts," Steve said as he pushed him to the ground.
Tony looked into the man's too blue eyes, took in the perfectly sculptured face, the strong neck, the broad shoulders, the…
Stop! Jeez, Stark, get a grip!
Jeez, Stark, get a grip!
"Trying," he coughed.
"You're not inside the armor. You can't take a direct hit, okay?"
Steve got up and held out a hand. Tony took it, trying desperately to ignore the way the muscles moved under the skin, how that gray t-shirt was too tight and revealed a bit of stomach…
Okay, that really has to stop!
"Let's stop for today," Steve suggested, reaching for a towel.
"Good idea," Tony muttered. His brain cheered. Other body parts weren't so happy.
He needed a shower. Preferably made of ice cubes!
Love it? Hate it? Struck speechless by the horror?